…South Korea is distinctive in that it slipped into below-replacement territory in the 1980s but lately has been falling even more — dropping below one child per woman in 2018, to 0.8 after the pandemic, and now, in provisional data for both the second and third quarters of 2023, to just 0.7 births per woman.
It’s worth unpacking what that means. A country that sustained a birthrate at that level would have, for every 200 people in one generation, 70 people in the next one, a depopulation exceeding what the Black Death delivered to Europe in the 14th century. Run the experiment through a second generational turnover, and your original 200-person population falls below 25. Run it again, and you’re nearing the kind of population crash caused by the fictional superflu in Stephen King’s “The Stand.”
That is from Ross Douthat at the NYT. We don’t want that lit-up map of North vs. South Korea to flip now, do we?